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Make a complaint about a school or preschool

Follow the process on this page to make a complaint about a school or preschool of the Department for Education (the department). You’ll also find tips on how to prepare and make your complaint and what happens afterwards.

Translated versions of this information are available in 18 languages.

You can make a complaint about: 

  • the type, level or quality of service
  • staff behaviour and decisions 
  • a policy, procedure or practice.

It's important to work together to find solutions in a polite and respectful manner, so we can improve our services.

For complaints about independent or private schools, you’ll need to contact those schools directly.

Before making a complaint

Before you make a complaint:

  • note down your main concerns and possible solutions
  • think about if you need support – we offer additional support with making a complaint for those who need it.

How to make a complaint

When making a complaint:

  • provide clear information about the issue and what you would like to happen
  • give complete and honest information (don’t include false or misleading information)
  • cooperate with requests for more information
  • allow time for a response (this may take up to 5 business days)
  • treat staff handling the complaint with respect.

Step 1 – contact the school or preschool 

The best way to raise a complaint is to approach the school or preschool directly. This gives the decision maker an opportunity to resolve the issue.

You can make a complaint in person. To speed up the process, book a time with the school or preschool to discuss the issue. You can also call them if that’s more comfortable for you. 

You might prefer to send an email. This will give you time to plan what you want to say and give you a copy of the complaint.

Contacting a school or preschool

  1. First, contact the relevant decision maker to try to resolve the issue.
  2. If you feel the issue is not addressed, contact the relevant leader – this may be the Principal or Preschool Director.

Visit find schools, preschools and other services to search for a school or preschool’s contact details.

Tips for making contact

In-person complaints

When scheduling a meeting:

  • provide clear information about the issue, including who you’ve spoken to and what outcome you’re hoping for, so they can respond at the meeting
  • advise if you’d like to bring a support person to the meeting with you
  • take relevant documents and something to record notes on
  • after the meeting, follow up any unresolved concerns in writing.

Written complaints (online form, email or letter)

When making a written complaint:

  • set out important points to make your concerns clear
  • describe the facts 
  • state what outcome you are seeking.

Phone complaints

When making a complaint over the phone, make sure you:

  • call at an appropriate time, such as during business hours and when you don’t have any distractions 
  • try to remain calm so you can be clear about the issue
  • are factual
  • are prepared – it might be helpful to note down a list of questions to ask beforehand
  • consider emailing the questions before making a call so that you can be given a more detailed response.

Step 2 – raise the issue with the Customer Feedback Team

If you’re still not satisfied that your complaint has been addressed, you can contact the department’s Customer Feedback Team.

You can either:

If you choose to remain anonymous, the Customer Feedback team may be limited with the action they can take.

How the Customer Feedback team can help

For school and preschool complaints, the Customer Feedback Team can:

  • give you information about why a decision might have been made
  • work with the school or preschool to explore options and solutions
  • review and address complaints that have not yet been resolved
  • confirm if due process was followed
  • connect you to the correct person or area to address your complaint
  • if unable to resolve the complaint, give you review options.

Step 3 – lodge a complaint with the SA Ombudsman

If we still haven’t resolved your complaint, you may choose to seek independent advice from the Ombudsman SA.

Phone: 1800 182 150 (free call)
Email: ombudsman@ombudsman.sa.gov.au

Visit what can I complain about to find out what types of complaints they can help with.

Other options for independent advice

Education Standards Board (ESB)

The Education Standards Board (ESB) is the state government authority that regulates early childhood services and schools. They manage compliance with the law.

Phone 1800 882 413
Email: esb.schools@sa.gov.au

Teachers Registration Board (TRB) of SA

The Teachers Registration Board (TRB) of SA regulates the teaching profession and manages registered teacher conduct.

Phone: 8253 9700
Email: info@trb.sa.edu.au

Refer to the complaint about a teacher information sheet (PDF 305KB) to find out if your complaint is something the TRB of SA can help with.

After you make a complaint

    After submitting your complaint, you may be:

    • sent a message to let you know your complaint has been received
    • given a reason for actions taken or decisions made
    • given a chance to explain your point of view and hear the school’s view
    • told the next steps in the department’s complaint process
    • given information about the policy, procedure or guideline that relates to your complaint.

    Most complaints can be resolved quickly, but complex matters may take more time. We will let you know if this is the case.

    Outcome of the complaint

    After you receive a final outcome:

    • the issue might be confirmed, or you might receive information showing why it can’t be proven
    • a decision, process or procedure might be reviewed, or you might get more information about why it can’t be changed (for example, due to law)
    • it might be confirmed that the matter was managed properly or could have been handled better
    • you may receive an apology.

    Requesting a review

    You can seek a formal review if you’re not satisfied that your complaint has been addressed or you have identified an error in the assessment. You must have already:

    • followed the complaint steps on this page
    • allowed enough time for Customer Feedback to follow up on your complaint
    • exhausted all avenues and options to resolve your concerns.
    • provided all information and evidence requested.

    Visit internal and external review process for school or preschool complaints for details.

    Treatment and behaviour during the process

    Receiving fair treatment

    You will not be discriminated against if you make a complaint.

    All department staff are bound by the Code of Ethics for the South Australian Public Sector. This requires that all staff act impartially, fairly and equitably.

    Avoiding unreasonable conduct

    We understand you might feel frustrated or upset when you make a complaint. However, this is not an excuse for unreasonable conduct.

    If you start behaving unreasonably, we will take steps to manage this.

    Unreasonable conduct includes:

    • constant phone calls, visits or emails after you have received a final response to a complaint
    • threats, harassment, demands, yelling or insults to staff.

    Visit unreasonable customer conduct when making a complaint for more information.

    Complaints about a central (corporate) office

    To make a complaint about a corporate office or give feedback, visit give feedback, compliments or suggestions about the department